Amelia Andersdotter: Internet copyright laws? They can walk the plank, says Pirate Party politician

Ian Burrell talk to the Swedish MEP who wants free music and movie downloads to stop internet users being criminalised

For a self-proclaimed pirate, there’s not a lot of yo-ho-ho about Amelia Andersdotter. The youngest member of the European Parliament may be only 25 but she has serious work to do.

Specifically, she is determined to reform Europe’s copyright laws to prevent teachers, internet users and DJs ending up in court. For Ms Andersdotter and her colleagues in Sweden’s Pirate Party there should be no such thing as an illegal download.

File sharing of films or music reflects a basic desire to “expand cultural horizons” and should not be criminalised, she believes:  “Using culture as a common reference point in social interaction is so normal and so human that I think not allowing that in law does not make any sense at all.”

On a visit to Britain to participate in a debate on media piracy,  Ms Andersdotter said musicians and film-makers had no right to charge people for downloading their work for non-commercial use, and the public should be allowed to interact with it for free.

There are other ways to fund films and music, she said, for example, through sponsorship deals or live performances: “A lot of the European film industry is sponsored by public money already.”

“You don’t have the right to get money. If your idea was commercially uninteresting then maybe you need another idea,” she said.

The militant stance of the Pirate Party has resonated with voters in several countries since it founded in 2006. Its popularity has given rise to parties with the same name and similar goals in Europe and worldwide, forming the International Pirate Party movement.

In the UK it has made limited progress:  its most prominent figure, Lawrence “Loz” Kaye, stood at the Manchester Central by-election in November collecting 1.9 per cent of votes. Ms Andersdotter, former international co-ordinator of the party’s youth wing, is indisputably the party’s star attraction. In Brussels, Andersdotter sits on the Committee for Industry, Research and Energy, the committee on International Trade and the committee on Budgetary Control. She is involved in the parliament’s work in South Korea and with the Andean community.

The party’s history is tied to the notorious file-sharing website The Pirate Bay which, for 10 years, has shifted around the world to avoid prosecution. “They are being persecuted and they are living in legal uncertainty,” Andersdotter complained.

The MEP claims that copyright law is arcane but remains in place because of the power of industry bodies – record companies, film distributors, performance rights collectors and publishers – with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.

Andersdotter, one of the speakers at the London School of Economics debate last week, does not believe the music business is struggling financially: “It funds itself fine, actually,” she insisted.

She argued that musicians and composers who produce content for remixers should make their money from concerts and deals with commercial streaming services: “The revenues in all cultural sectors are rising, and have been rising for many years. People are spending a larger amount of money today on cultural content even though they are also pirate copying a lot of material,” she said.

“What they aren’t having is freedom to interact with the cultural material they want, so we have criminal teachers (using downloads as classroom tools) and criminal teenagers interacting with cultural content.”

The music rights organisation PRS for Music took a different view: “If creators cannot earn from what they create, it is a hobby and not a business,” said its spokesman.

“Jobs, careers, livelihoods and the future of content creation on the scale we enjoy today would undoubtedly be harmed,” he said.

Suggested Topics
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
Life and Style

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister

Met Police confirm that there was a 'minor disturbance'

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Primary Teacher Cornwall

£21500 - £40000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: ***KS1 & KS2 Teachers ...

Year 5 Teacher

£80 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Year 5 Teacher KS2 teaching job...

Software Developer

£35000 - £45000 Per Annum Pensions Scheme After 6 Months: Clearwater People So...

Systems Analyst / Business Analyst - Central London

£35000 - £37000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Busines...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album